Archived 2016 topics: Katanga Masked Weaver (Ploceus katangae) is being split: request for information on P. upembae

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the second volume of the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.

The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.

Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.

The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 2 of the checklist (for passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2016 Red List update, with the remainder to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.

Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.

Katanga Masked Weaver Ploceus katangae is being split into P. katangae and P. upembae, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, P. katangae was listed as Least Concern, on the basis that it did not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. P. katangae (as now defined following the taxonomic change) is found in reedbeds and papyrus vegetation in northern Zambia and south eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Craig 2016). Very little is known about this species and there are no population estimates (Craig 2016), but given the size of its range and its presence in several protected areas in Zambia (see Craig 2016) it is not thought to be severely threatened. It is currently not thought to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion, and so it is proposed that it be listed as Least Concern.

P. upembae is known only from wetlands around the River Lualaba in south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Craig 2016). Unlike P. katangae it is not thought to be a colonial breeder, with only 1 male present per breeding site (Fry and Keith 2004). There is very little further information regarding this species or the potential threats it may face in this region. We therefore urgently request any information for this species, and the absence of any further information may require the species to be listed as Data Deficient, in line with other species endemic to this area (e.g. Black-lored Waxbill [BirdLife International 2016]).


BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Estrilda nigriloris. Downloaded from on 30/09/2016.

Craig, A. 2016. Katanga Masked Weaver (Ploceus katangae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 30 September 2016).

Fry, C.H. and Keith, S. 2004. The Birds of Africa. Vol. VII. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2001. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN Species Survival Commission.

IUCN. 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.

Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. 2010. Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.

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1 Response to Archived 2016 topics: Katanga Masked Weaver (Ploceus katangae) is being split: request for information on P. upembae

  1. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 28 October, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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